TAIPEI CITY, Chinese Taipei- Nao Hibino recorded an upset victory over No.3 seed Samantha Stosur in the first round of the Taiwan Open, showing tremendous consistency to see off the Australian, 7-6(6), 6-2.
The Japanese got the better of a dramatic first-set tiebreak before pulling away in the second to win through in one hour, 31 minutes.
"I'm so happy I beat one of the great players," she said. "I was struggling with her serving and my return but I just tried to play aggressively."
Indeed, this was a match of few chances.
Four break points in the opening three games of the match suggested a rollercoaster ride, but after each woman claimed one, there would not be another opportunity fashioned until midway through the second set.
The tiebreak, however, was remarkable. Off the back of some uncharacteristically sloppy points from Stosur, Habino had four successive chances to take the set, only for the Australian to hit back to save them all. However, the errant hitting from the WTA World No.39 saw Hibino win the breaker 8-6.
For the first five games of the second set, another shootout seemed probable as serve was consistently held with ease, yet when Hibino claimed a break in the sixth game, it proved to be a watershed moment.
Stosur would not get on the board again, with her inconsistency highlighted by the incredible solidity of the WTA World No.93 at the other end of the court. Indeed, it took Hibino until the seventh game to make an unforced error in the second set, which was soon claimed as Stosur again went long.
She will face Sabine Lisicki in the second round, after the German WTA World No.246 continued her fight back towards the top of the game with a hard-fought success over Zhang Yuxuan.
After winning the first set 6-3, the 28-year-old lost the second to just one game but regained her composure to win a tiebreak in the decider 7-3.
Elsewhere, there were comfortable two-set wins for Ana Bogdan, who beat Peng Shuai, 6-4, 6-1, Magda Linette, who got the better of Han Xinyun, 6-2, 6-0, and Wang Yafan, who saw off Risa Ozaki, 6-2, 6-4.
Pauline Parmentier, meanwhile, required three sets to record a 1-6, 6-4, 6-1 victory over Kurumi Nara.
In the final match of the day, Eugenie Bouchard was leading, 1-6, 7-5, 2-0, when Zhu Lin retired.